Arab World Diplomat To Be New French Spy Chief –

PARIS (AFP)–A veteran diplomat and Arab specialist is to take the
helm of French intelligence and counter-terrorism operations under
reform plans to be unveiled next month, an official told AFP Monday.

Currently France’s ambassador to Algiers, Bernard Bajolet, 59, was the
top French diplomat in Iraq from 2004 to 2006, when he played a key
role in winning the release of three kidnapped journalists.

In the newly created post of intelligence tsar, his job will be to
oversee the work of the 14,000 members of the intelligence services,
currently split between five agencies, according to a source close to
the reform plans.

Bajolet will operate out of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s offices,
signalling a shift in responsibility for intelligence matters, until
now overseen by a committee in the prime minister’s services, to the

Streamlining French intelligence, which is carried out by five
agencies that answer to the interior and defence ministers, is one of
the aims of a hotly awaited white paper on defence reform to be
released next month.

The government announced last September plans to merge two of the
services in a bid to improve its response to new security threats such
as terrorism and economic espionage.

The new DCRI agency, described as a “French FBI”, will be made up of
the RG police intelligence unit and the DST counter-intelligenc e service.

Bernard Squarcini, the current head of the DST and a close aide to
Sarkozy, is tipped to take the helm of the new agency.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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